Cruel City (무정도시)
Synopsis: When her best friend suffers a brutal fate while undercover in the crime underworld, Han Soo Min is driven to pick up where her friend left off. But in the shadows, there are no rules and no reason: Soo Min falls for the organization’s king pin, who also happens to be the prime suspect of her friend’s murder.
Country: South Korea
Duration: 60 min
Casting: Nam Gyu Ri, Jung Kyung Ho, Lee Jae Yoon, Yoon Hyun Min, Kim Yoo Mi, Choi Moo Sung etc…
“The world is like a mirror. If you spit and curse at it, the world will spit and curse back at you. If you laugh, I’m sure the world will follow and laugh with you too.”
This drama is and will surely remain my favorite Korean production of all time. I was watching this show while it was airing and the waiting was killing me! You won’t find another drama like this one. I don’t even know if we can call it a «drama» since it does not conform to any characteristics that normally make up a Korean drama.
All the twists are equally ingenious and it’s impossible to get bored. It was like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, an onion that you peel discovering one layers after another, a…(I think you got my point!). Actually the end was easily/quickly (to my great despair!) reached and once it was over I felt empty, completely blown up by this mad race. I don’t remember how many times my heart skipped a beat. This drama talked about drugs and was itself a drug.
The drama starts. Cars crawl through the pitch-dark night. Life seems to go on as usual. But somewhere in the city a man walks nervously, looking over his shoulder to see if he was followed or not. The whole scene is accompanied by a tense, beautiful music. We don’t need more to understand what kind of drama Cruel City is. Dark, tense, intense and beautifully made. The criminal underworld is a play of power and shadows. Most of the scenes were in fact filmed during nights. The scenery and colours are dark and faces are literally eaten by shadows which gave an incredible aestheticism to the show.
Aestheticism reinforced by the costumes which are a bit special for a contemporary drama (a mix between the fashion of the American prohibition and the Korea of nowadays I would say). The actions scenes are brilliantly performed and not too bloody. Beyond the splendid realization, the drama also offers a very interesting psychological analysis about human being- and above all undercover.
“Being undercover is dangerous. Not because of them but because of yourself. Don’t forget who you are”.
“You know being an undercover is not an operation or a strategy. They’re human beings”.
If the story was brilliant it could not have been as its best without its amazing cast!
Soo Min was the character that had the most flaws in my opinion (that doesn’t mean I didn’t like her). She was interesting on different level: I loved her interaction with other characters (except maybe with Ji Hyung Min. Didn’t really like her pseudo one-way love for him) and what she was (spoiler). Many might criticize the fact that she was not enough present on screen compared to other characters but I though it was just the perfect amount of time. It made her apparition more special and avoid her character to fall into cheesy. Of course her romance with Jung Shi Hyun was the best. Real. Straight to the point. Simple (well not that simple if you take in account the true identity of Jung Shi Hyun). Anyway I’d never seen such “romance” in dramaland and I was happy for once to be spared the teenage «kiss» (lips barely touching, slow motion, with the camera turning around). I have to say that most of her flaws where in fact due to the actress’s performance. If Nam Gyu Ri really knows how to cry, be sad, serious etc…she never convinced me when she had to play the cheerful innocent part of her character. Fortunately we didn’t get to see that aspect that often.
Jung Shi Hyun’s character -brilliantly interpreted by Jung Kyung Ho- was beyond the well-written characters. Charismatic, dreary and complex he was the drama itself. JKH managed to convey multiple feelings. The most impressive was when he was expressing anger. His whole face changed as if he was a complete different man. Bloodcurdling. Cold-head, he was always one step ahead the other, manipulating them, trying to protect the one he loves. He was not an invincible hero. We could see him at times waver, suffer, disconcert by the turn of events and even cry. JKH’s performance was both exciting and heartbreaking (and since then he entered my TOP3 best actors *a big round of applause please*)
Ji Hyung Min played by Lee Jae Yoon was also a remarkable character. Torn between his duty as a policeman and his thirst of revenge, he suffers and prevents himself from being happy (I would have loved to see him happy with the cute journalist that pursued him but well things turned out differently, too bad for me). His character evolved quite a lot along the episode. In the first ones we could see a Ji Hyung Min completely blinded by his anger and ready to use any means to catch Paksa adeul (Soo Min was his pawn and nothing else). But with doubts gaining ground (is Paksa adeul the real culprit?) he finally returns to his senses, to my great happiness (I don’t really like characters that constantly rush headlong. It never gives good results).
Jin Sook (Kim Yoo Mi) was one of the most elegant, classy and merciless heroine that I’d ever seen (have to be great to have her as a big sister!). A sort of queen that everyone idolizes. She has one weakness: Paksa adeul. She would do anything to protect him even though she knows that her love for him is not shared in the same way.
>>>>> SPOILER- her most beautiful scene was when she took Paksa adeul in her arms right after she had learnt about his true identity in my opinion *shiver* – SPOILER <<<<<<<<
Safari (Choi Moo Sung) was one of the character that surprised me the most. Hard to know who he really was and I was easily deceived by him. Great performance from A to Z.
Min Hong Ki was an odious character (but in a kind of good way)
>>>>>>> SPOILER- The guy sends dozen of undercover, just like that. Without considering them as humans, destroying their life (see what good it did to Safari). They are just pawn. Actually the icing on the cake was the discovery of Gi Chul’s true identity (Paksa adeul’s driver, the “boyfriend” of Soo Min’s best friend) in the 19th episode. Too much icing gives nausea. We had already got what kind of guy was Min Hong Ki without Gi Chul. One little flaw in the script. Not everything can be perfect^^ but it’s forgivable with all the other great twists and actions the scriptwriters gave us. And the super ending that strengthened my judgment on this character…but I won’t say another word about that cause even if I wrote Spoiler some people might have read it nonetheless (it’s always more tempting when it’s forbidden, right?) and I don’t want to spoil the drama more than I’ve already done– SPOILER <<<<<<<<<
I can’t mention all the character because of their high numbers. Nobody was useless. Each one of them was more interesting than the last one.
Just a special mention to Soo (Yoon Hyun Min) that I really REALLY loved with his “jinjjong” (= really, normally pronunced “jinjja”) and Gyeong Min (Go Na Eun).
I still don’t understand the low audience rate in Korea! For me it was the most beautiful work I’d ever seen in dramaland. Drop all of your drama, movies and go watch it if it’s not already done. Bet your bottom dollar that you’ll like it.
Bonus: the only laugh of the show (picture of Hyung min’s draw of paksa adeul)
Note de Dushbadou: 10/10
Note de Whoovy: 10/10
Note finale : 10/10